Spaghetti is a food that is familiar all over the world. This yummy pasta has been around for quite a long time, too. Let’s explore the history of spaghetti!
Spaghetti by itself is just the noodle. We’re familiar with the term thanks to Italian cuisine.
The word is the plural form of spaghetto. That word came from spago, which means “thin string” or “twine.” And that’s just what spaghetti looks like!
Where Did Spaghetti Come From Anyway?
There’s some thought that the long, thin noodles were brought to Italy by the famous explorer Marco Polo, upon his return from the Far East.
Pasta itself, however, is mentioned in Roman historical writings as far back as the 1st century BC. Marco Polo didn’t begin exploring until 1271.
Way back then cooks were making long, fine sheets of dough called lagana, which was fried and eaten. By the 5th century, that food had evolved to a layered casserole dish using the noodles, meat, and sauce. Lagana is where lasagna came from.
Cooks everywhere like tinkering with the dishes they create. They like experimenting with foods because it’s fun!
The result of that tinkering? The noodles kept evolving into various shapes. Spaghetti noodles, as we’re familiar with them now, show up in historical records along about the 12th century in Sicily, Italy.
Made from semolina flour ground from a hard wheat called durum, plus water, and a little salt, the noodles could be dried and stored for long periods. That made pasta easy to transport over long distances, both on land and over the oceans and seas.
Plus, the dried noodles are easy to prepare by adding them to a little boiling water, and they can be a meal all by themselves. Kind of like an old fashioned “convenience” food.
Have Spaghetti, Will Travel
This was important to the explorers, and by the 16th century, pasta was a common staple on the ships sailing from Europe. Prior to the sailing explorations, pasta noodles were carried across Europe and Asia by way of the Silk Road.
Dishes made from spaghetti-type noodles are found in every culture. As spaghetti made its way around the globe, people adapted it to fit the flavors they enjoyed.
Noodles Around the World
From Asia to the Americas, there are all kinds ways spaghetti is served. Used in soups like ramen and pho, served with tomato sauces and meatballs, or simply paired with olive oil and cheese, there are so many ways to enjoy this versatile food!
Spaghetti with marinara sauce was “discovered” in the 18th century. Why did it take so long to come up with this tasty combination which is known all over? Well, tomato sauce was created then! And… Ta-Da! Spaghetti noodles pair deliciously with the tomato-based marinara.
Spaghetti Comes To America
When people from Europe came to the Americas, they brought with them the simple fare. It was introduced to the people of Mexico and South America, and they put their own flavors with it.
Spaghetti was introduced to the Americas with the explorers in the 1500’s. The immigrants who moved to the United States in 1880 used it as a filling and inexpensive way to sustain themselves.
In fact, spaghetti became such an important part of the cuisine of the United States that someone decided that there needed to be a national day to celebrate it! While the origins of National Spaghetti Day aren’t known, it did catch on and it’s celebrated now every year on January 4th.
Bonus Recipe: Mexican Spaghetti!
Varieties of spaghetti dishes are found all over the globe. One super simple recipe comes from Mexico. They call it Sopa de Fideo, which literally means noodle soup.
Fideo is prepared kind of like risotto. Instead of dropping the dried noodles in a pot of boiling water, the spaghetti strands are toasted first in a little oil before the liquid is added.
We've included a bonus recipe so you can try this Mexican-style spaghetti yourself!
Sopa de Fideo
For the ingredients you need-
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
7 ounces of Thin Spaghetti noodles, broken in half
8 ounces of Tomato Sauce
12 ounces of Broth (Chicken or Vegetable)
½ - 1 Cup of shredded Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
To make it-
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the noodles.
- Stir the noodles until they begin to brown slightly.
- Add the broth and tomato sauce and stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan.
- Stir occasionally, so the noodles don’t stick.
- Let the noodles cook for 10-12 minutes. You want them to get soft.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the shredded cheese.
- Mix it all up, and you’re done! Super easy and super-fast fixins.